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Advancing equality and diversity in universities and colleges


Ensure goods and services are fit for purpose for all staff and students, and reduce costs.

Procurement is the complete process of acquiring goods and services from third parties. Taking equality into account at an early stage in the procurement process can help to ensure goods and services procured externally are fit for purpose for all staff and students, and can reduce costs in the longer term.

It can also ensure the institution meets its legal obligations. The Equality Act 2010 requires HEIs, colleges and their contractors to ensure that they do not unlawfully discriminate in their employment practices or provision of goods, facilities or services.

In Scotland and Wales, institutions have a specific duty to have due regard to whether award criteria and contract conditions should include considerations to enable them to better advance equality. You can find further details in the Equality legislation section.

ECU worked with the British Universities Finance Directors Procurement Professionals Group and procurement and equality and diversity practitioners from a range of institutions to produce guidance on equality in procurement.

The Equality through procurement in FE and HE breaks down the procurement process step-by-step, providing practical guidance, ideas and case studies at each stage.

  • Putting equality into the procurement process; planning the contract, the tender process, managing and monitoring contracts
  • Supporting departmental or devolved purchasing
  • Toolkit – model questionnaires, contract conditions and relevance assessment tools

Effective procurement practice

The guide includes some examples of effective practice that help to embed equality in procurement:

  • Develop pre-qualification equality questions to include in all tenders for works or services of high value.
  • Develop equality guidance for key staff managing purchasing processes.
  • Include procurement guidance in online equality and diversity training, and equality guidance in procurement training.
  • Discuss equality considerations as part of initial contract commencement with contractors.
  • Hold regular equality reviews with key purchasing and contracts staff to establish any key equality considerations for contract and performance reviews.
  • Include equality clauses in contracts.

Further resources